Anger

Menstuff® has compiled the following on the issue of Anger.

The Last Angry Man
Angry Hostile Men Can't Blame Testosterone
What to do with Your Anger
Do's and Don't's of Dealing With Anger
Are We “Hardwired” for Hatred?

The Last Angry


Temper, temper, boys. Otherwise you may tell yourselves right into an early grave. According to a new study in Circulation, men with explosive personalities have a greater risk of having strokes or dying. Boston University researchers found that quick-tempered guys have a 10 percent better chance of developing an atrial fibrillation or irregular heartbeat - a stroke risk factor - than less volatile men; hotheads were also 20 percent more likely to die from any cause during the 10-year study. By the way, there was no increase in heart flutters in hostile women. Go figure.
Source: U.S. News & World Report, 3/15/04

Angry Hostile Men Can't Blame Testosterone


Angry, hostile men aren't suffering from excess testosterone, research shows.

They do suffer, however. It's well known that men who indulge in aggressive behavior are more likely to have heart disease and strokes. Why?

It's not because they have abnormal testosterone levels, find Maciej Tomaszewski, of the Medical University of Silesia in Zabrze, Poland, and colleagues. Tomaszewski's team analyzed physical and psychological data on 933 young, apparently healthy men.

The angriest men tended to be the most overweight. The most hostile men tended to have the lowest levels of "good" HDL cholesterol. Overall, the young men with a cluster of risks factors for diabetes and heart disease tended to be the most aggressive.

Testosterone had nothing to do with it. The most angry and hostile men had sex-hormone levels similar to those seen in the least aggressive men.

"Men with clustering of metabolic risk factors ... had significantly higher scores of total aggression than subjects with the opposite combination of body-mass index and HDL despite similar testosterone levels," Tomaszewski and colleagues write in the abstract of their presentation to this week's Scientific Sessions 2003 of the American Heart Association.

In plain language: Bullies tend to be overweight or obese -- and they are at risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Source: Daniel DeNoon, American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2003, Orlando, Fla., my.webmd.com/content/Article/76/90280.htm?printing=true  

Do's and Don't's of Dealing With Anger


Dealing With Anger in a Healthy Way Is Crucial

We all experience anger. Managed in healthy ways, anger can be a positive thing -- a red flag that something’s wrong, a catalyst for change, a good self-motivator. Handled poorly, anger can cause health and relationship problems. (See this article for more on the negative effects of anger.) For many, especially those who didn’t have positive role models for anger management while growing up, dealing with anger can be confusing; it’s hard to know what to do with such a powerful and potentially destructive emotion.

Examining your anger and using other anger management techniques can positively impact your health, relationships and overall happiness. It's simple to do. Here are some proven anger management strategies.

Understand Your Anger

Dealing with anger is much easier when you know what you’re really angry about. Sometimes people may feel generally irritable because of stress, sleep deprivation, and other factors; more often, there’s a more specific reason for the anger. Either way, you can become more aware of what’s behind your anger if you keep an anger journal (a record of what makes you angry throughout the day) for a few weeks, then talk it over with a good friend, or even see a therapist to uncover underlying sources of anger, if you find yourself stumped. Once you are more aware of your sources of anger, you can take steps to deal with it.

Express Yourself—Constructively

Research shows that writing about anger and expressing it constructively can help reduce negative mood and even pain, particularly if the writing leads to ‘meaning-making,’ or speculation into the causes of the anger.

This research, as well as other research on the benefits of journaling, supports the effectiveness of writing down your feelings and working through them on paper. The written expression of anger allows you to actively do something with your anger rather than just letting it make you feel bad.

Take Action

Your anger is telling you something. The first part of dealing with anger, as discussed, is examining it and listening to what it’s telling you about your life. The next part involves taking action. Knowing why you’re upset can go a long way, but eliminating your anger triggers and fixing problems that make you angry are equally important. You may not be able to eliminate everything in your life that causes you anger and frustration, but cutting out what you can should go a long way.

Don’t Obsess

Ruminating on your anger isn’t actually helpful. Studies show that, among other things, those who have a tendency to ruminate over situations that have made them angry in their past tend to experience higher blood pressure as a result, putting them at greater risk for organ damage and associated health problems. Trying to solve a problem is a good idea, but stewing in your anger is not.

Don’t Over-talk It

Discussing your anger is a tricky thing. Talking about your anger with a trusted friend can be an effective strategy for dealing with anger -- to a point. It can help you better understand your feelings, brainstorm problem-solving strategies, and strengthen your relationship. However, there’s also evidence that repeatedly discussing topics that make you angry with your friends can actually make you both feel worse, and increase stress hormones in your blood. If you’re dealing with anger by talking to friends about it, it’s best to talk about a situation only once, exploring solutions as well as your feelings. Most of us --especially the women -- have been involved in conversations that are basically complaint sessions or downward spirals of negative emotion; it’s best to change the subject to a happier topic before it gets that far. If you find yourself wanting to talk a lot about what is making you angry, it might be a good idea to schedule a few sessions with a therapist, who may have some effective ideas on dealing with anger.

Sources:

Byrd-Craven J, Geary DC, Rose AJ, Ponzi D. Co-ruminating increases stress hormone levels in women. Hormones and Behavior, March 2008.

Gerin W, Davidson KW, Christenfeld NJ, Goyal T, Schwartz JE. The role of angry rumination and distraction in blood pressure recovery from emotional arousal. Psychosomatic Medicine, January-February 2006.

Graham JE, Lobel M, Glass P, Lokshina I. Effects of written anger expression in chronic pain patients: making meaning from pain. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, March 6, 2008.

This article: stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/dealing_anger.htm

Are We “Hardwired” for Hatred?


Many years ago, I treated a patient diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia—one of hundreds I cared for at a state mental health facility. It happened that this particular patient hated Jews with a smoldering passion, and frequently made veiled threats against Jewish caregivers—including me. To make matters worse, this very intelligent man—a former Jesuit—refused to take adequate doses of his antipsychotic medicine. He never quite met legal criteria for involuntary hospitalization or treatment, despite sending me many letters with chilling statements like, “Jews don’t live long.”

The horrific murders of 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh have rekindled memories of my patient, and how much I dreaded checking my clinic mailbox, for more than a year. Fortunately, I was never physically harmed by this man and actually managed to forge something resembling a therapeutic alliance, as I have described elsewhere.1 Tragically, the people killed or wounded in the Pittsburgh attack were not so fortunate.

All this—as well as the recent pipe bomb incidents involving numerous Democratic politicians—has sparked some somber reflection on my part, regarding the nature and origin of hatred. In digging through the literature, I came across an intriguing study from 2008, by Semir Zeki and John Romaya, at University College, London.2

Zeki and Romaya recruited 17 people expressing strong hatred for a specific individual. The subjects underwent fMRI scans while they viewed the face of the person they hated, and also faces of acquaintances for whom they had neutral feelings. The gist of the study was that “there is a unique pattern of activity in the brain in the context of hate,” which is distinct from that seen in the context of other strong emotions, such as fear, anger, aggression, and danger, even though hatred shares common areas with these other sentiments.

Most notable was the press coverage of this research, which boldly announced the identification of the brain’s “hate circuit”3—a term Zeki and Romaya did not use in their study. The clear implication was that our brains are “hardwired” to experience hatred. Yet this small study—which, to my knowledge, has not been replicated—did not demonstrate that we are born with a “hate circuit”, or that we cannot mitigate the effects of these neural structures.

To be sure, there is substantial evidence that our brains are biologically predisposed to distinguish “Us” from “Them”—and this applies, for example, to our perception of race. Stanford University biology professor Robert Sapolsky has written extensively on how our brains react, more or less automatically, when we are shown pictures of people who don’t resemble us—the “Others” and “Thems” of the world. Sapolsky writes:

Briefly flash up the face of someone of a different race (compared with a same-race face) and, on average, there is preferential activation of the amygdala, a brain region associated with fear, anxiety, and aggression.4

Critically, Sapolsky notes, our reaction is pre-cognitive; ie, it “…comes long before (on the time scale of brain processing) more cognitive, cortical regions are processing the Them. The emotions come first.” And yet, Sapolsky cautions that these emotional reactions are not etched in stone—or irremediably encoded in our brains. We can modify our emotional reactions to “Them”—the feared “Other”—in various ways. For example, Sapolsky points to “. . . a powerful cognitive tool—perspective taking. Pretend you’re a Them and explain your grievances. How would you feel? Would your feet hurt after walking a mile in their shoes?”4
Source:
www.starkcountyohio.gov/StarkCounty/media/Public-Health/Press%20releases/Stark-County-County-Level-Report-3.pdf

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I have a right to my anger, and I don't want anybody telling me I shouldn't be, that it's not nice to be, and that something's wrong with me because I get angry. - Maxine Waters

A man that does not know how to be angry does not know home to be good. - Henry Ward Beecher

I have been waiting twenty years for someone to say to me: "You have to fight fire with fire" so that I could reply, "That's funny - I always use water." - Howard Gossage



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